The School of Medicine has achieved a silver Athena SWAN award from the Equality Challenge Unit in recognition of its work to promote gender equality.
Over the last 3 years, since securing a bronze award, hard work and commitment has been invested into developing a range of initiatives to address gender equality, including:
- An Academic Development Fund (up to £15K per award) to support the maintenance of academic trajectory whilst on a period of leave (e.g. carers / maternity / adoption leave), or to facilitate re-engagement at the end of the break
- A guarantee to staff who reduce their hours that they can return to their original hours on request
- Facilities to support mothers on their return from maternity leave so they can continue to breast feed their babies an initiative led by members of the Self Assessment Team in the Leeds Institute of Health Sciences
- Creation of the Leeds Female Leaders Network in partnership with Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust (circa 700 members and growing)
- A reciprocal agreement with the local NHS to honour terms and conditions for clinical staff on the Integrated Training Pathway to support, for example, female clinical academics taking maternity leave one of the first medical schools in England to offer this
- Raising awareness of what is considered unacceptable behaviour and how to report it. This is in response to a survey across the School and has been included in handbooks given to all students.
There is still much to achieve and through the Schools Steering Group an action plan is in place which will be addressing further areas to improve. A target has been set to reduce the gender pay gap to 5% by 2019; to significantly increase the number of female clinical professors; to increase female staff participation in leadership and professional programmes by 30% by 2018; and for all staff to have completed online equality and diversity training by 2018.
The principles of equality in the everyday business of the School have been demonstrated through these initiatives and actively supported by all staff, regardless of their role or gender. The award has also opened up opportunities for key NIHR funding streams which would otherwise not be available to the School.